The Uber-syle Scooti scooter taxi service which started operations in Melbourne in April 2019 collapsed this year due to government red tape, says CEO Brett Balsters.
“Scooti battled for nearly a year in Victoria and again in NSW to convince the governments of its ability to operate safely and to ensure its compliance under the regulations,” he says, claiming they ran out of funding during the drawn-out process.
“The government ride-share regulators; Vic (Commercial Passenger Vehicles Victoria) and NSW (Point-to-Point Commission) mismanaged our applications and misled the company by setting the expectations that our application would be processed in a a few weeks,” he says.
One example of CPVV red tape included a prolonged review of a licence for a Scooti rider because he wore hearing aids.
“In a review process, it was pointed out that hearing aids corrected the issue in the same way that glasses do,” Brett says.
“It was stated that if they treated hearing disability like this they would also have to refuse anyone that wore glasses as having a visual disability. The refusal was overturned.
“A big victory for the hearing impaired but a waste of time for Scooti as the driver had become sick of waiting to onboard and left.”
“The CPVV attitude was to place motor scooter taxis in the too-hard basket. By stalling they ultimately made the business fragile and as conditions changed, Scooti could not survive.”
Scooti Motorcycle Taxi Service went into administration in February 2020.
“Scooti’s unfortunate demise is a prime example of the governments’ placation of the taxi industry,” Brett says.
“The regulators tied Scooti up in bureaucratic knots, stalled and passed the application through so many departments that on many occasions Scooti’s CEO Brett Balsters would find himself re-introducing the company and explaining the Scooti concept to a new group of public servants.”
Brett says the unexpected delays forced the company to seek more funding to tide them over, but assures that they continued to pay employees during the prolonged application period as they expected a result “at any moment”.
“With no commitment on timeframes from either government, Scooti’s staff and management waited in limbo, unable to commit to a launch dates and yet ready to go,” he says.
Brett rebuts suggestions that staff were underpaid, saying that “every Scooti employee was paid above-award wages”.
However, he does not believe their failure will be the end in Australia of two-wheeled ride sharing which is thriving in some other countries.
“Scooti’s service proved that there was a market for this faster form of public transport,” says Brett who believes a similar service will eventually succeed.
“Scooti’s passenger service helped commuters into and out of the built-up city areas. The Scooti service didn’t take up valuable parking spaces or taxi ranks and but kept the cities moving.
“Instead of assisting local business and encouraging more innovative public transport options, the governments’ focus gets distracted on the billion-dollar decade-long projects as the priority, while the taxpaying commuters are left staring at the red tail lights and traffic queues ahead.”